We look at how several of the leading US retailers are supporting the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Walmart supporting healthcare workers in rural areas
This month, Walmart has started to administer the Moderna vaccine to healthcare workers (Priority 1A) in New Mexico. Store locations have been selected to support its administration in more rural areas. Given the vital role its stores, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians will play in the immunization of communities, first doses have been offered to those on the frontlines of this effort. Walmart is also preparing its stores to administer vaccines to essential workers, first responders and older Americans in Priority 1B and Priority 1C groups. The retailer is also preparing for the wider roll-out of the vaccine to all Americans in the spring and summer through its network of 5,000 stores.
Kroger recruiting 1,000 associates to support the effort
Kroger’s health division, Kroger Health, is recruiting around 1,000 health care personnel, including pharmacy technicians, to support operations and the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine. The retailer plans to provide the vaccine through its 2,200 pharmacies and clinics. This month, the retailer has started to administer the Pfizer vaccine to healthcare workers in Alaska. It is also engaged in vaccination efforts for prioritized populations in several other geographies. Since April, Kroger Health has facilitated more than 250,000 COVID-19 tests. In October it launched rapid antibody tests to help inform patients if they may have been previously infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, expanding its existing portfolio of in-clinic and at-home COVID-19 diagnostic tests.
Albertsons launches new vaccine website
Albertsons has also administered its first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in Alaska. It has also received doses in eight other states. In preparation for high consumer demand, it has hired additional pharmacy staff and launched a new website to support consumer education. Through the site, customers will be able to access convenient scheduling solutions and receive frequent updates. The retailer is working with public authorities to identify the most logical location for administering vaccines, including within its pharmacies or at separate community locations.
Health as a strategic focus
Managing the roll-out and administration of the vaccine across the US is going to take significant effort. However, given their extensive networks and pharmacy being an integral element of many food retailers’ operations, they are well positioned to support this. While the pandemic has brought health and wellness to the forefront for consumers and operators, retailers such as Walmart and Kroger were already making significant progress in this area. Over recent months, Walmart has been increasing the roll-out pace for its Walmart Health clinics, while Kroger has launched several wellness-focused programmes during the pandemic. These include a comprehensive flu-shot programme, including touchless in-store appointments and drive-thru vaccinations. In May it launched a free tele-nutrition service to offer consumers personalised support and plans for individuals and families.
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